Sampling techniques for national surveys have constrained the statistical power in estimating prevalence rates of child mental health problems in minority ethnic groups.
To establish the prevalence rates of mental health problems in ethnic Indian adolescents in England and compare these with matched White adolescents living in the same areas.
A cross-sectional survey with oversampling of Indian adolescents aged 13-15 years of age.
The sample size was 2900 (71% response rate) with 1087 (37%) Indian and 414 (14%) White adolescents. Ethnically Indian adolescents had lower rates of all types of mental health problems (5% v. 13% and 21% v. 30% for abnormal Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire scores, respectively) and substance misuse (18% v. 57%, 5% v.15% and 6% v. 9% for regular alcohol, smoking and drug use, respectively), with the exception of eating disorders, compared with their White counterparts. The odds of an abnormal score on the mental health questionnaires were worse for White compared with Indian children irrespective of sociodemographic variables.
Factors relating to how Indian adolescents are parented or their social support networks may be influencing their mental health and may warrant further investigation.
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